From the editor Featured

10:05am EDT July 22, 2002
Every Sunday afternoon, to my wife's dismay, I stroll through the garden, making note of all the weeds that need to be pulled. I venture up to the barn, where I imagine the llamas I hope to acquire someday. I visualize the Victorian brick patio that I plan to design and build. Inside, I pick paint colors for a room, rifle through a folder of writing ideas, dream of a new bathroom addition, inspect the water damage on a ceiling beneath a roof that needs to be replaced, and discuss with my wife all of my grandiose plans.

Then I take a nap.

It's just a half-hour, I assure my wife before sinking into my living-room sofa. Three hours later I awake, just in time for dinner. Maybe tomorrow, I figure. Maybe tomorrow.

As I learned while spending part of a day with frenetic entrepreneur Joedda Sampson recently, she didn't put off anything until tomorrow. There's no napping for Sampson, whose entrepreneurial interests run from bed-and-breakfast, advertising, and retail clothing, to construction, restoration ... and plenty of Victorian-style entertainment. As I learned, she may be as scattered as anyone I've met, but her passion-and focused discipline-kept her off the sofa and able to fulfill a life's work that proves anything but boring.

I joined her at 8:30 one sunny morning in late August at her yellow mansion at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Amberson in Shadyside to see if she was everything others had told me about her. But instead of finding a serious businesswoman dressed in an expensive suit and ready to take on the corporate world, I found a tall, long-haired redhead dressed in short jean shorts and cowboy boots pointing here and there as she consulted with two landscapers outside. She offered very specific instructions about various shrubs and trees while she oohed and aahed about the beauty of that greenery. Only when she was satisfied did we board her Range Rover.

We stopped for a quick cup of coffee, then proceeded to a local tile shop to pick ceramic tile for one of her loft customers. We then rode to East Liberty and her Victoria Hall, where I listened to her discuss stainless-steel appliances and sundry details. Then it was on to the Strip Lofts, where she commanded an army of subcontractors laying tile, hanging drywall and painting completed condominiums.

But then she absolutely had to stop and share with me the view of the city from the top floor. "Isn't it beautiful?" she almost declared.

We paused, and then she was off again to another project, another of her many business interests, conducting business all along the way over the phone in her vehicle. She apologized for the interruptions and for not dressing appropriately. Still, that didn't stop her from attending a lunch meeting-in downtown Pittsburgh-with a male business associate.

Certainly, her mind works like those of most high-energy entrepreneurs. She has the ideas, all right. But that's not what seems to matter.

If there's one thing that this month's cover story should convey, it's that she loves what she does-exuding an infectious passion not seen in most businesspeople. If it's not fun, she says, then don't do it.

But she also seems to know how to control that passion with a focus and discipline that serve mainly to channel that passion into ongoing success and allows her to feed it with so many diverse business opportunities. And she gets things done.

As for me, spending time with Joedda left a profound impact on my sometimes-less-than-enthusiastic attitude and demeanor. But it also left me exhausted. Indeed, it was time for a nap.